My Editing Process
Everyone has a different method when it comes to editing. Some like to read out loud, others like to use a special program to help edit their book, etc. I’m going to go into detail about my method here, but like I said, it’s my method. It will not work for everyone, and you may find it’s the most terrible editing method ever. I’d love to read more about how you edit though, so feel free to leave a comment!
Step One: Revise, Revise, Revise!
After I write a chapter (or in some cases, an entire first draft), first thing I do is revise. This is basically looking at the story with my draft-glasses on. Does everything I say in chapter one match with what happens five chapters later? Do I need to rewrite a scene because I made some plot mistakes?
This can go very far. In some cases, I cut out an entire storyline. Other times, I completely deleted a character, and added him much later in the story. Or these can be smaller changes, like one time I called the MC’s Mom Petra in one chapter, and five chapters later, called her Sandra all of the sudden.
But that’s not all I do. If I see a lot of backstory, or I think the story drags somewhere, I try to change it. I also spell-check.
Step Two: Critique Partners
After the first revision round, I send my work to my critique partners and eagerly await their responses. Usually, I write the second chapter, or when I’ve already finished the entire draft of the manuscript, I work on a new manuscript.
Once I get the critiques back, first thing I do is read through their notes (usually in the mail) and think about it. These are usually their general critiques on the chapter as a whole. I try to keep these in the back of my mind when I go through their more in-depth critique in the chapter itself. I read it through completely, then take a deep breath, and start editing.
I don’t always do what my critique partners say, but in about 99,9% of the cases, I think they’re right. Unless when I have something planned they don’t know yet in another chapter and something the MC’s say is absolutely necessary for that, I will cut it if they advise me to. I try to keep my own voice, but also keep their criticism in mind. It’s a difficult balance at first, but it’s necessary.
Step Three: More Critique Partners or Betareaders
Next step is getting ready for either more critique partners or betareaders. This differs from story to story. Some stories have ‘good’ first drafts, which means that the story itself doesn’t need changing, and after one round of critiques, and two revision rounds, it’s ready to head to betareaders.
However, when the story needed tightening, or my critique partners recommended I change entire scenes or chapters, I wlll usually send it to them again first before going to the next step. Then I wait for critiques, go through them, and edit the chapter based on the critiques.
Once I get the book back from the betareaders, I open up all betareads’ critiques, and the latest version of my manuscript. I revise the book chapter per chapter, combining all the betareaders’ critiques. When two people say the same thing, I assume they’re right. When only one person says it and three others don’t, I will think it through before I make the changes.
Step Four: Run the spellchecker one last time!
After betareading, the manuscript is done (or as done as any manuscript can ever be). If I had a lot of comments, I may go for another round of betareading. If not, then it’s time for the final round of editing. The spellcheck only round. I go through each sentence, looking if it’s not too long or too complicated.
This is basically the grammar/spelling check round.
When that’s done, I’m ready to start querying.